This web site is an attempt to share a glimpse of the "old days" at South Pole and elsewhere in Antarctica, in the perspective of the present day, along with news, trivia, photos, links, and other Pole stuff that I think is neat. The site is intended for noncommercial educational and private use by those interested in the history and heritage of this amazing continent. The opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own, and since every day spent on the ice resulted in a few more of my brain cells getting toasted, I'd really appreciate any comments, suggestions or requests about stuff that you may find here.
In case you haven't figured it out already, Bill Spindler is extremely positive about South Pole--otherwise why would I keep going back, much less put this web site together. I have attempted to be positive about the place and the program. That said, I do put my historian hat on at times, and what you see is, well, history. Mistakes have been made, accidents have happened, aircraft have crashed, and Polies have lost their lives, and I've attempted to document these aspects of Pole history fairly and accurately. But if that isn't enough of a disclaimer, I guess I'd better throw in a bit of legal and moral stuff since it is going around these days. Nothing on this site is to be considered to have any official endorsement or support from the US National Science Foundation (NSF); any of the NSF-funded science or support projects conducted in Antarctica; Holmes & Narver, Inc.; ICDS; ITT Industries; Antarctic Support Associates; Rieber Shipping A/S; the Department of Defense; NOAA; USGS; UW; CARA; ANI; SPAWAR; SCOARA, SPT, OAE's; Edison Chouest Offshore; AL&E; Raytheon; RPSC, ATS; NAVFAC PAC; RSA Engineering; PICO; ICDS; Pole Souls; Polies; Antarcticans or anyone else I may have missed. This site is © Bill Spindler 1999-2011; all rights reserved. It's all mine, folks, so if I've screwed up please let me know so I can fix it. None of the content should be used for commercial purposes...as some of it has been shared with me with that provision. If in doubt, please ask.
And one last disclaimer...this site is a historical record of over half a century of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station...and as such it depicts many work practices, wall decorations, features, facts, fun, and former station facilities from the past 50 years. Please keep in mind that this stuff is meant to be viewed within its proper historical context. Nothing seen here should be interpreted as endorsement or approval of any activity which may be offensive, predudicial, environmentally unacceptable, unsafe, insensitive, inappropriate, not in the interests of the U. S. Antarctic Program, or anything else you don't like :)
Enough of that legal stuff. This site is dedicated to the memory of Gary Rosenberger, who shared the last year of his life with us at a certain very special place.
1977 seems like not very long ago as I look at the Pole pictures, but our lifestyles and social schemes at Pole and elsewhere in the world have changed massively since then. For example, our pinups on the wall were a fact of life given 21 isolated men; nowadays with women and married couples around, who needs them. Enviromental awareness was a completely different thing--the ozone hole had not been invented yet, and we were doing the same thing with our garbage that Amundsen, Scott, and Byrd did. The most significant change I see is the totally different approach to communications with the real world. We had only Navy teletype HF radio messages, and they sometimes took several days to make it. The only other alternative was ham radio phone patches. I talked to family and friends a number of times, and I also talked to my supervisor in Anaheim about once every 6 weeks but of course we could not discuss business over ham radio. Nowadays the Pole is very closely linked to the rest of the world via satellite links. In fact, to facilitate real-time comms during the 1999 winter Pole operated on Denver time (-6) instead of the McMurdo/Christchurch time (+12) we used (that time shift hasn't been tried since). And nowadays there are VOIP (voice over internet) phones in every room, and Iridiums for use when the regular satellites aren't up. Sometimes I think we were better off emotionally and operationally in the old days of isolation without the real-time comms and internet links.
Photography was then as now a popular pastime at Pole. Digital cameras nowadays allow you to throw away the picture and try again if it doesn't turn out, but we did not have that luxury. Without digital cameras or scanners, our options were Kodachrome or Kodacolor (which meant you threw the rolls of film in a drawer until you could send them to Kodak), black and white, or Ektachrome. We had all the chemicals and papers you needed to develop and enlarge black and white, plus we had some kits to develop Ektachrome slides. The high speed 400 ASA Ektachrome was the best stuff for outside shots and auroras; basically you set your camera up with tripod and cable release, and opened the shutter for 45-60 seconds. There was a somewhat limited supply of high speed film and developing kits, but Dr. Fritz did a great job of rationing them out so we had enough to last all year.
My main camera was a Konica Autoreflex T3, and I also had wide angle and telephoto lenses for it. This was of course very bulky, especially with the external flash. I also had a small "pocket" 35mm camera which was easy to carry and keep warm, but could not be used with flash. Most of my pictures did not get developed until after the end of the winter, which is not good if you find out that they did not turn out or the flash didn't synch right!!
We had a slide copier, which was basically a lens that allowed you to photograph another slide. We shared many slides this way, including some of those that you see here. I've given credit where I remember it, but it's been a long time and I'm sorry but I don't remember who took most of the originals.
The art of Pole photography is difficult to begin with because all of the colors are weird and unpredictable. If you copy a slide, the colors get even worse from the copying process. Then there is all of the dust and dirt that appears on the slides because you did a lousy job developing, or because you've showed the slides too many times. Then there is the fact that the film changes colors and turns blue after 20+ years. Most of the 1977 pictures you see here were slides scanned on an HP 4C flatbed scanner using a $20 triangular device you set on top of the slide on the glass. The device contained mirrors which enhance the light passing through the slide. After scanning I used the HP software and Microsoft "Picture It" to get rid of the dust spots etc. I attempted to adjust the color to get rid of the excess blue, but I am no graphic artist. So what you see is what you get. I am very disappointed at how much poorer the computer images look vs the slides. More recently (spring 2004) I purchased a new scanner (Epson 3170) with much higher resolution, better software, and a decent slide scanning feature, and someday I need to rescan some of those old slides, since the original scan sizes were kept very small due to slow dialup and satellite connections at the time.
Most of the other pictures you see around here from 1972 and the 1980's were similarly scanned, and the same comments about content and color are applicable. The pictures Tadashi Yogi sent me were scanned on his high-resolution slide scanner.
Oh yes, nowadays at Pole (as everywhere else) digital cameras are the rule. The newer high-end ones even do a decent job on aurora shots. While there is still something to be said about old time cameras, the recent emphasis on environmental awareness has restricted the use of many of the traditional darkroom chemicals on the ice, the main darkroom in the dome next to the old bar was converted to a higher priority space (a much-needed head), and the original plans for a wet darkroom in pod A3 of the new station were changed when more room was needed for electronic and networking equipment. However, thanks to some volunteer efforts one of the janitorial closets in B2 was converted into a small but functional darkroom, but that was only temporary for the 2005 winter.
Some of the historical information on this site has been obtained or verified from NSF and NSF-sponsored hard-copy and online documentation, including but not limited to the Antarctic Journal, the Antarctic Sun, grantee web sites, friends, and personal pages from fellow OAE's. I've endeavored to give credit to authors, sources, and photographers where appropriate. Nowadays lots of photos are shared digitally on common network drives and CD's without identifying the photographer...all I can assume is that the photographer was willing to share his work anonymously, so I've chosen to use these photos accordingly, again, commercial use of any of these is not a good idea. All of the significant online information sources can be found via the links and news pages elsewhere on this site. In keeping with the educational focus of this site, I have included a few historical photographs from commercially published books; please respect the copyright restrictions on these photos.
Regarding the winterover crew lists...these are presented as historical documentation only...I make no claim as to accuracy. NSF planned a historical exhibit as part of the new elevated station; I participated in its preparation, and it is depicted above. It includes a complete set of photographs of all of the w/o's since IGY, or lists for those few years for which we haven't yet located photographs. This is one reason I've endeavored to collect the information. The data is complete now so far as I know since I haven't gotten any corrections lately but if I missed or messed up please let me know, and thanks!
The best source of the crew lists was the Antarctic Journal and predecessor publications from NSF and NSFA, but sometimes they neglected to include the information, and they are no longer issued. Otherwise I've had lots of help, and I've included the source of each list where appropriate; and I must also acknowledge Darryn Schneider and BillyAce Baker who had some of the information I didn't. For the past few years the lists have been furnished from the station, typically as part of the Midwinters Day message. Recognize that a few of the w/o's have gotten married or otherwise changed their names between winters, and a few other Polies have chosen to use aliases.
Special thanks to the folks who have provided the information, history, trivia, corrections, photos, and other miscellany that I've used on these pages...in approximate OAE order: Charles Swithinbank, Malcolm Mellor, Jim Waldron, Dick Bowers, Don Scott, Cliff Dickey, Charles Bevilacqua, Chet Segers, Paul Dalyrimple, Buz Dryfoose, Sid Tolchin, Fred Mayeda, Don Bessinger, Bruce Raymond, PK Swartz, Phil Bradford, Robert Woods, Paul Lint, Billy-Ace Baker, Mike Trimpi, Ron Lampert, Alan Kane, Larry Cox, Bob Tate, Jim Wallace, Richard Horton, Andrew Moulder, Martin Sponholz, Lars Andersson, Leo Campbell, Fred Walton, Leonard Yarbrough, Kirmach Natani, Jim Landy, Allen Cull, Bob Hutt, Bob Little, Gary Wayne, Gary Brougham, Don Lussier, Bruce Sorrell, Jerry Marty, Bill Kay, Bill Talutis, Ralph Lewis, Dick Spaulding, Ron May, Jim Heckman, Bob Nyden, Elena Marty, Dan Bolton, Dave Bresnahan, Dick Wolak, Paul Rydellek, Jim Mathews, Jim Jordan, Dan Morton, Les Rohde, Jerry Gastil, Stu Harris, Brad Halter, Jim Fletcher, Tadashi Yogi, Alex Zaitzev, Bill Koleto, Mike Pavlak, Ric Morris, John Bortniak, Martha Kane Savage, Mike Savage, Jay Morrison, Art Brown, Pat Mosier, Chuck Huss, Robert Williscroft, Rich Wiik, Bob Hurtig, George Cameron, Mike Beller, Pete Furtado, James Waddell, Stan Wisneski, George Blaisdell, Tim Beauchamp, Jordan Dickens, Dennis O'Neill, Dan Parkin, Al Oxton, Jon Lingel, Joe Ferraro, Don Leger, Brent Jones, Carlton Walker, Brian Jacoby, Katy Jensen, Janet Phillips, Steve Warren, Mike Papula, Ann Adams, Bruce Blackburn, Neil Conant, Richard Perales, Michael Ashley, Glenn Grant, Ethan Dicks, Robert Holmes, Scott Smith, Chris Rock, Joe Hawkins, Chris Bero, William Arens, Simon Hart, Dan Derkics, Rodney Marks, Todd Cardiff, Robert Schwarz, Chuck Kimball, Juan Reyes, Joel Michalski, Charles Kaminski, Sarah Kaye, Bruce Blackburn, Jerry Przybylski, Andy Clarke, Gene Davidson, Darryn Schneider, Bill Henriksen, Robert Thompson, Kelly Kaletsky, Bill Henriksen, Cheryl Humme, Andrea Grant, Nathan Tift, Jen and John Bird, Dana Hrubes, Jerry Macala, Chris Post, Jeff Kietzmann, Henry Malmgren, Kris Perry, Jon Berry, Karina Leppik, Joy Culbertson, Moe Madding, Adam Swanson, Frederick McDougall, Seth White, Glen Kinoshita, Pete Koson, and, er, oh well, all my fellow 2005 and 2008 winterovers and many folks in between and afterward.
Last but not least, I'd like to encourage more of you who have a diary and/or a collection of Antarctic photos in your closet or on a CD or hard drive, please share them with the rest of us!!Please enjoy and respect. I can't say it enough: South Pole is a very special place.